Amazing letter from Alfred Lord Whitehead to Charles Hartshorne, January 2, 1936. Notice final sentence on page, where he names the founders of the American Renaissance, William James (the analogue to Plato) and Charles Pierce (to Aristotle). Inspired to pull out these volumes…on top of reading Koestler, Janus (1978) and The Ghost in the Machine (1967) and Hartshorne, Whitehead’s Philosophy: Selected Essays, 1935-1970 (1972). Heavy but heady stuff. Nothing better.
Everything happens for a purpose? There is a grand plan for every person on earth, every moment of their lives. It is all guided and orchestrated, like a lovely mosaic, only visible from afar. The universe at all times is unfolding precisely as it should be. We just can’t see the whole. Zenoof Cyprus ( Ζήνων ὁ Κιτιεύς), 4th Century BCE (paraphrased)
NO! NO! NO! A trillion times NO!
I absolutely do not believe that. I know it is seductively comforting to some but it runs against all historical logic and moral sensitivity. It removes us from the reality of choice and freedom, happenstance, and flukiness. Time and chance happen to all things. Major events turn on the flip of a coin, the bounce of Woody Allen “matchpoint.” Yes, Crimes and Misdemeanors do often pay. All things are contingent. The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley. Worst of all such a view mitigates the horrible reality of tragedy, senseless suffering, and just plain evil. Let pain and suffering and genuine grief and loss be acknowledged. That sort of repression can never in the end be healthy or good, despite any temporary delusion. The truth has a way of breaking in. True character–love, joy, peace, goodness– arises out of the midst of a “world gone wrong,” as Dylan would say–yes, wrong, genuinely wrong, not a scripted set on a stage, but regrettable, horrible wrong! The “sighs and cry” over the “abominations” of our humanly directed world are holy and sacred, not contrived and staged. The “core” of our truest and most honest Selves, however labeled, as God or “Ground of Being” or the “Force,” weeps and cries and struggles with us, as the Process unfolds. This is, by definition, the “best of all possible worlds,” for the split second present, but we can choose in the next future second to steer ourselves and others in a better path.
Happy Biblical New Year, Nisan/Aviv 1, the 1st day of the 1st month…Exodus 12:1 “This new [moon] shall be the beginning of the months [news moons] for you…A time to think back and forward and begin afresh, with Spring Sprung and the early “harvest” getting ripe. Aviv means “spring” or new.
Of his discovery, DePalma said, “It’s like finding the Holy Grail clutched in the bony fingers of Jimmy Hoffa, sitting on top of the Lost Ark.”
The current issue of The New Yorker (April 8, 2019 print edition) has a “grippingly sobering” article by Douglas Preston titled “The Day the Dinosaurs Died.” No matter what you know of or have heard about this “event,” if we can minimize it with such a vapid characterization, one should read Preston’s account for its sheer art of narration–not to mention the remarkable discoveries of DePalma.
For we North Americans it hits “home” in a particularly disturbing way, since we are close to “Ground Zero” for the most cataclysmic disasters in our earth’s “recent” living history–namely the Yucatán peninsula. Sagan’s “Pale Blue Dot” should be watched and listened to monthly if not weekly by our homo stultus species, and yet it comes across like a peaceful wave of nostalgic longing compared to the utterly TERRIFYING cosmic violence and chaos of our Solar “System.” Freud, Norman O. Brown, Becker, and Koestler, all had it right. We desperately “long to count” in our tiny little socially constructed perceptual “worlds” projected onto a “physical” reality that seems utterly dead to our longings and dreams. And yes, frightening “things happen” outside these Gates of Eden in the Land of Nod that yields only thorns and thistles. Dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return. Ah, but the Serpent me beguiled and I did eat. The Bible tells me so.